Historic Preservation
& Adaptive Reuse

Old buildings often outlive their original purposes. Adaptive Reuse is a process for adapting old buildings for new uses while retaining their historic features. An old factory may become an apartment building. A rundown church may find new life as a restaurant. Or in the case of the Gaylord Building, an old warehouse and office building can become a museum, galleries, a restaurant, and a focal point for the redevelopment of adjoining historic resources.

In the pursuit of sustainable development, communities have much to gain from reusing historic buildings. Bypassing the wasteful process of demolition, adaptive reuse also has environmental benefits. These benefits combined with energy savings and the social advantage of recycling a valued heritage place make adaptive reuse of historic buildings an essential part of sustainable development.

Why Reuse Old Buildings?

Often, the cost of rehabilitation and restoration of an old building far outweighs the costs of demolition and new construction. So why even consider adaptive reuse? Here are some reasons:

  • Material Quality. Seasoned building materials are often no longer available today.  Close-grained, old-growth lumber is naturally stronger and richer in character.
  • Sustainability. Adaptive reuse is inherently green and extends a building’s life cycle. Construction materials have already been produced and transported to the site. The reuse of building materials usually involves a saving of approximately 95% of embodied energy that would otherwise be discarded, costing additional energy.
  • Cultural Continuity. Conservation of historic buildings can be a tool for cultural continuity. Preserving historic places allows communities to pass on what they hold most dear to future generations. Rather than falling into disrepair through neglect or being rendered unrecognizable, historic buildings that are sympathetically recycled can continue to be used and appreciated.

Promoting Innovation

The adaptation of historic buildings presents a genuine challenge to architects and designers to find innovative solutions. As development pressures increase in our cities, more historic buildings are being reused, producing excellent examples of creative designs that retain historic significance.


The ground floor of the Gaylord Building hosts the permanent exhibit Illinois Passage: Connecting the Continent. This exhibit examines the impact of the Illinois & Michigan Canal on the development of northeastern Illinois, and gives guests a peek into the history of Lockport.

Latest Exhibit

Lincoln Landing

Lincoln Landing is an outdoor museum memorializing the history and people of Lockport, and Abraham Lincoln’s I&M Canal connections. Located just outside the Gaylord Building, Lincoln Landing features a bronze statue of a young Abraham Lincoln, and can be enjoyed year-round.

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